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How Can I Help My Teen Stay Organized?

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How Can I Help My Teen Stay Organized?

Organizational skills can be the key to the chaos that is your child's life. Teens are often at a loss to know why they cannot find their notes and assignments or are always running behind. Not all children realize that organizational skills must be modeled and taught.

If this is the case with your teen, it may be time to step in and ask if they would like some help organizing and ordering their life. It can be a good time for the two of you to bond and for you to pass on necessary life skills.

The Necessary Supplies

Begin by helping your teen to choose the supplies that they will need to organize their school items. Some of these items may actually be on your child's list of required school supplies, but they will be able to make good use of the supplies whether or not they are required. Your child should have an organized binder prepared and designated for each class.

In each binder, place a set of dividers and label them appropriately for the class. Completed homework, notes, pending assignments, and handouts, for example. The binders should also have a section of paper for note taking.

Saving the Date

Next, help your child to set up a planner or appointment book that they can use to keep track of classes, assignments due, and extracurricular activities. Having a place to immediately write down new events and obligations will help your teen to remember them. Your child will need to commit to using the new materials appropriately, however, as organization is an ongoing project.

It may be a good idea to get a white board for your teen's bedroom. Have them write down important due dates and other information they need to remember. Hang the white board above their desk, so it will be in a place where they frequently look. By keeping up with a white board, your child will be able to keep track of what needs to be done when.

As your child gets older, more and more due dates will fall on them. Each teacher will assign homework, tests, and other tasks that need to be completed by a certain date. On top of that, your child may have other due dates, like those for college applications, that they need to pay attention to.

While it may be tempting to constantly remind your child about what they have due, as they get older they need to take on this responsibility themselves. You won't be there to remind them of these things when they are an adult. If they forget to turn in an assignment or miss an appointment, they'll have to suffer the consequences of that. By letting them make these mistakes, you'll allow them to learn more effectively.

Practicing New Skills

Once you and your teen have taken the time to set up a system of organization that works for them, take some time to go over basic tenets of organization. Remind your child to immediately file loose papers in the appropriate binder and write important notes and dates in their schedule. You can also apply your child's new organizational approach to personal spaces like their bedroom and their locker.

Go through these areas with your teen and encourage him or her to find or make a place for all their belongs. This is a great opportunity to do a little purging of out-of-date papers and unused belongings. The end result will be a sparkling new space for your child to live and work in.

Following Through is Key

You should take the time to help your teen remember to exercise their new skills periodically. This is especially important when you see evidence that your child is backsliding and growing messy or forgetting assignments. Teaching your child about organization now, while they're young, can help them to develop habits that will bring life-long benefits.

These skills will definitely be useful to your teen when he or she enters college and then the adult world. Of course, your teen might not take wholeheartedly to organization, but you can hope that they will learn the skills and deploy them when they feel they're necessary. It's all about finding a happy medium, as organization is not always a teen's natural state.

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